Head of medical body raises concerns over rising anti-vaccination trend
Dr Padraig McGarry, head of the Irish Medical Organisation, is worried about misinformation being spread online.
The president of Ireland’s leading medicinal association says he is ‘seriously concerned’ over the rising anti-vaccination trend.
Dr Padraig McGarry, head of the Irish Medical Organisation, says rising populism and misinformation is influencing vaccination take-up rates among parents of young children.
“I am seriously concerned about the rise of the anti-vax movement and what that means in Ireland,” he said.
“Our vaccination programmes keep children and adults alike safe from serious infectious diseases, and it’s terrible to see how misinformation being spread online and offline can convince people not to vaccinate their children.”
Dr McGarry’s warning comes on the back of a UN report which shows that the number of Irish measles cases rose from 25 in 2017 to 86 last year.
It is up to all of us to fight this misinformation at every turn Dr Padraig McGarry
So far in 2019 there have been 48 cases of measles in Ireland.
According to the HSE, one case of measles could infect up to 18 people and the only protection is the MMR vaccine.
“We have seen a significant rise in populism across the Western world in recent years, from which Ireland is not immune. With that populism has come a blind faith in ludicrous theories that do nothing but cause harm to people.
“The rejection and devaluing of evidence-based medical knowledge will make more people sick and endanger lives, and it is up to all of us to fight this misinformation at every turn.”
Many of those who subscribe to the so-called “anti-vax” movement believe that the MMR vaccination can lead to children developing autism and other conditions. It’s believed they often use Facebook and other social media sites as a platform for the theory.
Dr McGarry said: “Social media’s dark side is real, and it is important that these lies are challenged swiftly and effectively to protect people around the country,” he said.
“The simple truth is that vaccines are safe and effective, and all parents should act to protect their children by ensuring they get vaccinated.”
Dr McGarry’s comments come days after Minister for Health Simon Harris said he wanted to make children’s vaccinations mandatory and has sought legal advice on the matter from the Attorney General.
Many cities internationally have banned non-vaccinated children from public spaces and schools, which Mr Harris initially said he was open to.
Mr Harris also said he would be writing to all political representatives to ask them to publicly promote vaccination, and reject “populist nonsense”.